JEERS TO The Manila Times for publishing on its front page a report on Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s guesting at a primetime comedy-variety show that belonged more in the entertainment section, and which at the same time sounded like a press release.
In its July 14 report “Duterte charms national TV” The Times highlighted how Duterte has supposedly gained the favor of TV viewers by “showing his soft side” and his being willing to answer comedian and host Vice Ganda’s questions on his political career and personal life.
“On Twitter, he became the top-trending topic in the Philippines and the second in the world with netizens adulating his ‘game face’ and willingness to participate in some of the things that they thought he would not do, including dancing to latest dance hits and singing in front of the camera,” the report said.
The report even echoed a member of the audience’s positive comment on Duterte’s guesting. “The entire interview was a merry mix of a lot of things that, according to a Duterte follower, exposed the mayor’s depth as a person and as a leader,” the report said.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer (“Duterte tells Vice Ganda: I used to be gay but I was reformed,” July 13, 2015), Philippine Star (“Duterte gives self ‘very good’ rating,” July 13, 2015) and Rappler (“Duterte backs same-sex marriage on Vice Ganda show,” July 13, 2015) also reported on Duterte’s television guesting. But instead of delving its most trivial aspects, their reports focused mainly on the mayor’s views on same-sex marriage, his alleged links to the Davao Death Squad, and his future political plans.
While there was some mention of these issues in the report, The Times chose to focus their report on the audience’s supposedly positive reception to Duterte’s guesting. This angle not only promoted Duterte but also diverted readers’ attention from the more relevant aspects of the interview.